The prescription sleep medication Ambien and its main ingredient zolpidem has been linked to an increased risk of dementia.
Ambien is a prescription sleep aid that can treat insomnia in the short-term. Dementia refers to a state of cognitive decline, memory problems, and impaired ability to carry out routine tasks.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, which is also linked to long-term use of Ambien.
Ambien may be prescribed to older adults to assist with their sleep problems. People in any age demographic should be aware of the potential side effects of Ambien and how their own medical history may affect their health.
The Link Between Ambien Use & Dementia
Studies have proposed that cognitive impairment caused by sedative-hypnotic use may contribute to cognitive decline.
These studies suggest the effect of these drugs on the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, can affect central nervous system (CNS) functionality in the long-term.
Ambien is thought to treat sleep disorders by inhibiting GABA receptors in the brain. Over time, the presence of this neurotransmitter may impair CNS function in other areas, such as cognition, communication, memory, and problem-solving. These effects can also be characteristic of dementia.
Some studies have also shown a link between benzodiazepine use and the development of dementia. Ambien is a sedative-hypnotic drug with a similar effect on the body as benzodiazepines.
Risk Factors For Dementia Caused By Ambien Use
Patients with preexisting health conditions may have a higher risk of dementia after taking Ambien.
These conditions may include:
- hypertension (high blood pressure)
A family history of Alzheimer’s disease can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s by 10 to 30 percent, which may further increase your risk if you take Ambien. The risk of dementia may increase if Ambien is taken in high doses, or if higher doses are prescribed over time.
Discussing these conditions with your doctor can help you decide whether Ambien and other z-drugs are right for you.
Treatment Options For Long-Term Ambien Use
Ambien is classified as a sedative-hypnotic and z-drug, a class of drugs designed to treat insomnia. Even with proper usage, Ambien can cause common and serious side effects such as drowsiness, memory loss, cases of sleepwalking, and dependency.
If you are experiencing a decline in health due to excessive usage of sleeping pills, you may benefit from professional addiction treatment. A treatment program can help you stabilize your health and find alternatives to sleep medicine use.
To learn about our outpatient treatment options, please contact us today.
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
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